Expanding Foodservice to the Forecourt

With gas margins in flux, the upcoming EMV investment cycle, and pressure from adjacent industries such as QSRs and drug stores, retailers are increasingly looking for ways to better serve their customers and improve margins. Here are two effective ways to change the way you interact with your customers:

  1. Drive more in-store traffic. With 2/3 of fueling customers never entering the store, driving consumers inside through media, couponing, or advertising is one way to capture more consumer spend. See Target Consumer Behavior and Drive In Store Traffic
  2. Use technology to accelerate your foodservice program. Fast casual foodservice is growing at 11% (NACS) and offers healthy margins; trends that mix nicely with the need to differentiate a site in an increasingly competitive market. Using foodservice solutions inside the store can help increase sales by 30%, but going beyond in-store kiosks by bringing ordering to the forecourt is a new technology that could further drive foodservice growth.

We recently partnered with Square One Markets out of Pennsylvania to test a new technology that allows you to order items at the dispenser. Here is the basics of how it works:

  • A retailer chooses their menu options – in this case Square One chose to focus on their high volume tobacco products along with some pre-packaged food and beverage items.
  • The 10.4” color screens present the menu immediately once the fueling transaction begins.
  • The customer chooses an option and a receipt is printed with the order details. Simultaneously, the order information is sent inside to the kitchen monitor for store staff to prepare.
  • After fueling is complete, the customer simply presents their ticket at the drive thru window or inside to pay and pick up their items.
Ordering Food at the Pump - Square One MarketsWhile it is only in a proof of concept phase, there is promising value in this technology. First, there is a high likelihood a customer will see the menu options, which means that they are now aware of a foodservice or other in store offering. They may not participate the first time, but during return visits, the likelihood of engaging with the in-store offering at the pump increases due to the increased awareness. Second, if a customer goes inside the store to purchase their merchandise, there is also an increased chance they will add related items, such as drinks or additional snacks to their basket. Third, a new and innovative solution can often be the deciding factor between two adjacent retailers. The more customized and relevant services a site provides, the more they can differentiate themselves from the competition.

Though we are testing this new technology, make sure to stay tuned for ongoing updates on ordering at the pump.

Lottery at the Gas Pump

Here in North Carolina, one of the few states to offer the lottery’s Play at the Pump, we have been enjoying the convenience of this technology for quite a while. In fact, the purchaser of one of the largest pay-outs in Carolina Cash 5’s history purchased her ticket at the gas pump! CS News reports, “Play at the Pump … provides an easy-to-use interface for customers to simply swipe their debit card at the gas pump, follow a few prompts and get their Quick Pick numbers delivered on their smartphone.”

Many people may not know that Gilbarco Veeder-Root offers this with our Passport® point of sale system! Watch here as our Passport® Product Manager walks through a lottery ticket purchase at the pump.

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When Should I Invest in Fuel Dispensers?

As retailers we understand that the next revenue generating idea can mean the difference between famine or feast. For c-store retail operations in particular, where fueling technology is the heart of the business, deciding whether to invest in state of the art dispensers with cutting edge bells and whistles can be confusing and overwhelming.

Let us simplify this process for you! Watch as our dispenser expert, Paul Kaper, Senior Marketing Manager, Retail, guides you through simplified steps for considering a new dispenser purchase. He presents real-life examples alongside pro’s and con’s.

4 Keys to a Successful Loyalty Program

Kevin BaileyKevin Bailey, Director of Point of Sale

Loyalty programs can boost C-store marketing efforts but as more retailers adopt, more is learned about their implementation. Frequently the end customer experience doesn’t always match the intended outcome – with every success, there are loyalty initiatives that miss the mark.

Successful loyalty programs must include these fundamentals elements:

  • Use Persona Segmentation To Differentiate And Target Messages
    The ability to consolidate consumer data, identify meaningful insights that address not just demographic differences but different motivations of your consumers is fundamental to loyalty program success.A testing a learning approach based on consumer segment hypothesis is often required.  Get to know your customer base and how needs may change based on user persona or time of day.  To the end consumer the message must feel relevant and personalized.
  • Ability To Drive Positive Behavior Change
    Loyalty programs began with this goal in mind and it is still vital. The ability to influence and track positive behavior change has expanded vastly with the proliferation of available customer data via digital channels. C-Store retailers must deliver a fair exchange of value for customer’s loyalty and provides a foundation for building relationships beyond one time transactions.
  • Rewards Must Be Relevant
    Best practice loyalty efforts start by knowing your customer base beyond transactions to motivations, lifestyle and ultimately who they are and what they value. Starting from customer insight enables rewards that are relevant and have the ability to inspire. Integrating loyalty into point-of-sale systems provides the ability to reward the customer’s spend with real-time connectivity.  Returning a benefit straight to the customer. Retailers can automatically update balances to deliver the instant gratification and recognition consumers particularly millennials crave for using the program.
  • Need To Recognize And Reward Beyond Transactions
    Loyalty programs that simply recognize transactions appear very one-sided, customers feel they are valued solely for profit. This approach limits the opportunity to build an emotional connection to the brand or individual store location.  Limiting the long term potential of the relationship.  An emotional connection is required to build customer devotion.  Devoted customers are likely to recommend a store location or product to others, engage with your social media outlets and be the most receptive to future offers.

A result of a good loyalty programs is that the end consumer receives rewards that are tailored to their needs, feel within reach and received at the right time. Versus driving loyalty via better values for the shopper which at the end of the day is only slightly more effective than a traditional paper coupon.

Gilbarco Impulse™ and Passport® solutions are tools that can be used to develop, manage, and implement best in class loyalty solutions for C-Stores.

Rise of Mobile Payment

Kevin BaileyKevin Bailey, Director of Point of Sale

The payment world is at the precipice of adopting a groundbreaking technology which, will permanently alter the way people use mobile devices to interact with their daily environment. NFC (Near Field Communication) is a short range read and write wireless communication protocol.

First conceived in 2004 by Philips and Sony, NFC allows devices to communicate with each other and exchange data at close range (approximately four centimeters) by coming into proximity contact with one another. A NFC enabled mobile phone can be used to emulate a configurable, contactless smart card to establish a connection with compatible devices or interfaces. A simple tap allows users to pay at contactless terminals, or turn ads into interactive multimedia experiences.

NFC has faced a tough road to widespread commercialization. Adding new wireless technology into mobile devices is not easy—requiring designers to address both physical design as well as software compatibility. Further, there are ecosystem development dependencies across a complex and dynamic value chain ranging from hardware components, standards bodies and IP stakeholders, to network operators to work out.

Even wireless technologies that are nearly ubiquitous today faced a long and uncertain uphill battle to gain traction in the US.

Wi-Fi, a wireless feature common in nearly all smartphones, was first conceived of in 1985 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened several bands of wireless spectrum for use without a government license. Used initially to connect cash registers, it wasn’t until 1997 that participating vendors finally agreed on a set of basic specifications for Wi-Fi. It took until around 2006 for wireless carriers to be assured that the breadth of mobile content available to consumption both in and out of the home was sufficient enough for them to take the handcuffs off Wi-Fi enabled devices. Once devices with Wi-Fi were allowed to be on the network adoption became widespread.

Bluetooth, commonly used today in mobile phones also faced hurdles in being widely adopted. Though Bluetooth was initially conceived in 1998, concerns over interoperability and identifying a killer application for mobile phones hampered its adoption. It wasn’t until 2004, that handset manufacturers began to incorporate Bluetooth into high end phone designs. Adoption continued to grow over the next four years bolstered by a complimentary multi-billion dollar mobile device companion products business.

Although facing many of the same early adoption issues as other wireless technologies NFC is disruptive to existing business ecosystems making its move to the consumer mainstream even more complex than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Mobile device handset makers, software companies, banks, traditional credit card brands, and wireless carriers are all vying to control digital payments made with the wave of a phone. After years of technology and industry trials, the pieces required to make NFC a reality for the US masses are beginning to fall into place. (Gilbarco’s Passport® Point of Sale System currently supports NFC payments.)

Significant hurdles such as device interoperability, contactless terminal deployment driven by EMVCo (Europay, Mastercard, Visa or EMV) rollout, and overall business model complications have been overcome paving the way for the NFC to take off. Industry analyst IHS predicts that by EOY 2015 there will be over 750 million NFC enabled devices in the market.

The market will see an attempt of various stakeholders to grab consumers’ attention and get their applications and payment instruments into mobile devices. The rate of consumer adoption and ability to secure consumer market share on a particular application will ultimately determine the winners in the NFC marathon.

The options are growing with more introductions every day – Apple Pay™, Android Pay™, the soon-to-be-released Samsung Pay, and more. Understanding your consumers’ desired payment needs is critical, so take the time to run research whether it’s an informal poll or a 3rd party customer study. Find out your customers’ preferences and make sure that your POS system has an easy, cost-effective path to upgrading your stores. The good news for Passport® users, it already accepts NFC today!